Postcards from Abroad: Lund

As Faye Docherty’s first semester in Lund draws to a close she reflects on what is so special about living in a ‘University Town’Most people I know either suit a city or country life. Interestingly I love both. Having grown up in one of Dublin’s suburbs I never found myself too far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre or the greenery of the Wicklow Mountains. Lund, just like Dublin, seems to have the perfect mix. When I was researching places to come on Erasmus, Lund stood out for me because of its ‘university town’ reputation. Cities that mainly thrive and in fact survive because of their student population have always appealed to me. Although I probably shouldn’t admit it, Galway was a very close contender for my choice of studies because of the city’s large student presence.Attending college in somewhere like UCD is hugely different to attending college in a place like Lund. Out of the 80,000 inhabitants living in Lund, almost 50,000 of them are students enrolled in the University. The campus is spread across the whole town. Between university buildings and student accommodation the campus makes out the bulk of the city. Many people visit the city just to see the university architecture, with the old library being one of the main tourist attractions.The main purpose of the town is almost to be a centre of education and learning. Lund would not have developed to the extent that it has without the University. Lund University is recognised as a top class university, not only in Scandinavia but also all over Europe. A historic rivalry exists between Lund and a university north of Stockholm called Uppsala. This competition is so great that many compare it to the Oxford and Cambridge rivalry.Although Lund is relatively small it benefits from its next-door neighbors. I’ve heard location is important when buying a house but I never realised how significant it is when picking an Erasmus destination. Lund is closely connected to Denmark from the east, Norway from the northwest and Finland from the north. The bridge in Europe connects Sweden to Denmark, taking about five minutes to travel across on a train.Lund is situated in the Skane region, an area that makes up the south of Sweden. The area of Denmark closest to Sweden shares many of Skane’s cultures and traditions. They are so closely connected that historically people from the Skane region are believed to be more like the Danes than the Swedes. Coming from living on an island it is very nice to be so connected to numerous European countries. The fact that you are able to jump on a train to Copenhagen and be there within 45 minutes is really something. It also means that you are never too far from the hustle and bustle of city life.Lund boasts a great student population and the town is full of services specifically catered for them. Everything is at one’s fingertips. The town’s quaintness does have its negatives though. There are no proper clubs or shopping centres. If you want to go out, you have to go to a Nation. The tradition of Nations is nearly as old as Lund University itself. There are nations in both Lund and Uppsala, which are the oldest student societies in Sweden. There are 13 nations in each. The Nations were originally intended to be a facility for students who were coming from the same area of Sweden to meet and engage with. Historically you had to join the nation of the area you were from. Because of this all the nations are named after Swedish provinces.Nations organise student activities that would traditionally be done by unions or societies in other universities. Student societies in Lund are not very prominent as the nations are in charge of the vast amount of events and activities. Each nation has a club and between Wednesday and Saturday they host their own night. Nations are actually a great way to meet other students. The nights also tend to be cheaper as they have student deals on drinks and admissions.Even though Lund has only one independent club, which is ironically situated in one of the university’s buildings, it still has an exciting nightlife. There is at least one party a week in one of the student residences and everybody heads to a nation during the week as well.To me, Lund is special because of its atmosphere and strong student presence. It completely fits the bill as a ‘university town’. The youthful generation that fills the streets of Lund creates a sense of vibrancy and liveliness, even if it’s nowhere close to being a capital city. As this semester comes to a close I feel so far that I have made the right decision in coming to Lund, even though I never realised how special its location or student presence was.